Change is afoot thanks to the efforts of Montana Energy Corps member Kelli Roemer.
I am happy to share with you a bit about what I’m doing here in Lewis and Clark County. First of all, I’ve just celebrated my two-month anniversary of the big move to Helena, Montana. Although I’ve lived in western Montana for the last five years, many locals would argue that this move to Helena would be my first move to the real Montana. While this argument is mostly a tease, it demonstrates an interesting range of values found in this great state. This range is something that I try to keep in mind when approaching my Energy Corps projects.
One program I am working on is called the Tri-County Green Business Program. This project is working to promote resource efficiency in business throughout the Lewis and Clark, Broadwater, and Jefferson Counties. These Green Certified businesses show leadership in our community by implementing greener practices, sharing their experiences, and engaging their customers and employees. We believe green business habits can promote positive environmental change.
Right now we have 15 (and counting) Certified Green Businesses in the Tri-County area. The support has been incredible and many local businesses quickly embraced this program. They flaunt the Green Business Certified sticker in their window, they love the Tri-County Green Business Facebook page shout outs, and people will seek out businesses who implement environmentally responsible practices. That being said, there is sometimes skepticism when you are promoting things as being “green”. For fear of green washing, many people will distance themselves from these programs. Understanding and working through the hesitation to join the program is a fun challenge (Yes, I said fun. This is where I get my warm and fuzzies).
I think back to this idea of real Montanans and the range of values they hold. Some folks get the warm and fuzzies knowing they did a green deed, while some just change the channel. Despite being red or blue or purple, these Montanans still have a lot in common. Montanans are authentic. They take pride in their work. They don’t waste their resources. Many of the green things we mark down on their Sustainable Actions list aren’t done for recognition, but simply because it is the right thing to do.
My role in the Green Business Program focuses mostly on community outreach and engagement. Almost every weekday I post a “Sustainable Action of the Day” on our Facebook page such as, “Recycle Styrofoam with the home decorating shop next door”—Home Beautifiers and “Compost lunch scrap food”—Park Avenue Bakery. This is my favorite part about the Green Business Program. Practical and long term environmental leadership is demonstrated in small but consistent, thoughtful actions. Big changes happen after thousands of careful little changes.
These businesses take great pride in these sustainable actions, not just because of energy savings and environmental benefits, but because it’s the right thing to do. This attitude is what keeps my heart in this project. Trying to save the planet can be overwhelming. So I like to focus on the Sustainable Actions of the Day.
Kelli Roemer graduated from the University of Montana in 2012 with a B.S. in Resource Conservation. She has worked in everything from the industrial barley fields to outdoor education in Glacier National Park. She is excited to gain professional experience and development with the Energy Corps program. Kelli is working with Lewis and Clark County in Helena, MT. She coordinates the L&C Green Team, the Citizen Conservation Board, assists with the implementation of the greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals for Helena, and educates the public about available energy and water audits in Lewis and Clark, Jefferson, and Broadwater Counties.